Thoughts on MacPhail, Middleton, and the Future Team


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I wanted to let yesterday’s press conference introducing Andy MacPhail as the new Special Assistant to Pat Gillick, and the next President of the team sink in a little bit before I talked about it. Not only did I want to take some time to let everything said sink in, but I had tickets to last night’s game, and wanted to allow that to sink in too. Now I have, and I have a number of thoughts.

By now, you may have read 30 articles and tweets talking about “sabermetrics and money” coming to the team from the press conference. That’s significant, but it’s not really the most significant thing out of yesterday’s press conference, nor should you allow that to pull you into believing the fix for this team will be short. While it’s possible that the rebuild won’t take many years, it also could be a while yet. I want to curb the enthusiasm just a little bit, and remind people the product still has a long way to go.

With that said, I am thrilled first by the presence of John Middleton at yesterday’s press conference. It is clear to me that Middleton is the power behind the scenes, and that has been increasingly public of late. Last Summer, there was a conscious decision to end David Montgomery’s tenure running the team, and to create a more serious baseball operation. That was clearly Middleton’s doing now, and he is clearly the man making these calls. He has the money to transform this team and it’s fortunes if he wants. It appears that he wants, right now.

I’m thrilled to see he picked Andy MacPhail too. Both seem committed to creating a modern front-office, one that uses statistics and analysis, and uses scouting too. This is how a baseball team is supposed to be run in 2015. MacPhail doesn’t just bring the pedigree of having two rings and success in other major markets, he also strikes me as someone who will have a plan. That is a great step in the right direction. While he won’t *technically* be President until October, it’s obvious to me that he is immediately joining Gillick in the room where decisions will get made for this deadline. That makes me very happy too. MacPhail is just 62, younger than I initially thought, and could guide the next decade plus for the Phillies. His track record is very good everywhere he went, and he said the right things. Be excited. As for his not taking over for a few months, don’t forget that he will oversee both baseball and the business side as President, and that takes some time to get acclimated to what’s going on.

With all of that said, I don’t see yesterday as a new beginning. A little less than a year ago, Pat Gillick was named interim-President of the team, and in October he took over the team. It’s sort of perplexed me that people have criticized him for the state of this team after such a short period of time, both because it’s a ridiculous charge, and because he’s actually got some good things done. Since he took over as team President, Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd, Roberto Hernandez, and John Mayberry Jr. have been shipped out, the draft team has been totally overhauled, Odubel Herrera was Rule 5’ed, and the minor league system has become more competitive and aggressive with promotions. The rebuild basically has already begun, even if some of the big moves are still yet to come.

Which leads me back to an earlier point- the team we have is a long way from contending. Yes, maybe you believe that Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola, and J.P. Crawford will all be in Philadelphia next year, providing a more exciting and successful product. Perhaps guys like Aaron Altherr, Zach Eflin, Gabriel Lino, and others will be ready to help this team win games next year. If everything plays out perfectly, and the team does spend money the way that Middleton alluded they would, and MacPhail is the savior, then sure, this team could be back contending soon. However, last night I went and watched Sean O’Sullivan cough up a 4-1 lead in a 7-4 loss. This team is still very bad. Any one particular piece of bad news could slow down your hopes of a good team fast. I suggest you remain patient as a fan. Good days could be coming, but maybe not as fast as we all hope.

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